Widener University Goes Soviet On Law School Professor

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

We have previously discussed the events at Widener Law School regarding Professor Lawrence Connell and Dean Linda Ammons, here, here, and here. The university formed a committee to hear the allegations of racial harassment, sexual discrimination, and retaliation. The committee, in its report, found no clear and convincing evidence of a university code violation on the racial harassment or sexual discrimination allegations.

The committee did find clear and convincing evidence pertaining to retaliation. Thomas Neuberger, Connell’s attorney, characterizes Connell’s actions not as retaliatory but as a defense against against false charges.

Ammons recommended, and the university accepted and required, that Connell submit to a psychological evaluation and anger management counseling. Connell has been suspended for a year without pay. These actions will look retaliatory if Connell’s lawsuit ever makes it to a jury.

Connell is suing Ammons, the university, and the two students who made the accusations, alleging defamation. The lawsuit seeks $1.8 in lost wages and benefits that would have accrued in the 12 years he had planned to continue working. Connell also is seeking additional damages for harm to his reputation, humiliation, pain, suffering, and emotional distress.

Widener Law is a fourth-tier law school and this situation will do little to move it up. However, this incident could affect the reputation of Widener University. Where were the Board of Trustees while all this was going down?

H/T: Legal Insurrection, VC, The Inquirer.

51 thoughts on “Widener University Goes Soviet On Law School Professor

  1. I see that his attorney, Thomas Neuberger, said, “He is going to start looking for work, applying for professor’s jobs all up and down the East Coast.”

    Good luck on that. I can just hear the muffled laughter coming from the office of the head of the faculty search committee. Especially since it is on his record that he is willing to sue an employer for $1.8 million dollars. Can you spell r-a-d-o-a-c-t-i-v-e?

    Just the guy for Glenn Beck U.

  2. AY, that story has gotten so convoluted that we will never know the truth of what happened. Everyone will spin it to their own advantage. Connell may be about to learn the truth of the comment attributed to Voltaire: “I have been ruined twice in my life. Once when I was sued and lost, and once when I sued and won.”

  3. Whatever one thinks of Connell, the following is a sad twist to the story:

    Neuberger said Monday that neither he nor Connell would comment on the suit further, citing the unexpected death Friday afternoon of Connell’s daughter, Molly. Providing medical care for Molly, who was disabled and institutionalized, was a major reason Connell cited for fighting for his job at Widener. (from the law.com link, April 11, 2011)

  4. Morning, AY. I agree that whatever one thinks of his politics — whatever one thinks about what he’s done — there’s no reason for him to simply capitulate…

  5. I have no idea what life is like for a law professor, even at a 4th tier school. I am just a schmuck that works as an IT professional at companies large and small. One thing I have learned from watching the world around me is that you have to eat a certain amount of shit to stay employed. Some companies and some bosses seem to take a twisted delight in serving up heaping helpings of it. What you, as the designated eater, can do about that is very limited. You can smile and say thanks while you die inside. You can hope (and in some cases work toward getting) a new boss. You can find work on another plantation in hopes of reducing your intake. And, finally, if the conditions are right, you can sue.

    But that last option is the worst. You are very unlikely to win and it will be a Pyrrhic victory. Particularly I would think in a narrow field like law prof. Every HR department in the world will know your name and even if you were badly mistreated you will still be known as a trouble maker. People who do not understand that live in a world I can’t comprehend.

    This guy would have been much better off had he fired up the old resume & moved on without all the drama.

  6. There are plenty of IT jobs. Law professor jobs, esp. if you’re coming from a lower-ranked law school? Not so much. Maybe 100 schools with maybe one position, if that?

    On top of that anyone being interviewed will have his background checked extensively since the cost of a bad choice is so high. There will be a lot of candidates (hey, steady employment!) and the school can afford to be picky. If you have any blemishes – forget it.

    Finally it sounds like he’s relatively old if he’s only planning to work another 12 years. IIRC there were earlier blog posts about schools having a strong preference for younger candidates who will be publishing papers for decades to come, not older candidates who bring experience to the table.

    So he’s right – this is career-ending. He has nothing to lose by pursuing the case. He won’t teach again but it would probably reopen some doors.

  7. It is becoming increasingly common for employers to mandate psychiatric evaluations, as a way of discrediting and ruining people. At one point, it might have been a “fire up the old resume and move on” situation (to use Frankly’s phrase), but it’s now in a different realm. Someone needs to take on the old “psychiatric reprisal” and attempt to show it for what it is…

    “Widener’s requirement of a psychiatric evaluation under these circumstances clearly is intended to further damage Connell even though the committee found no conduct which reflected any alleged psychiatric or anger management issues. Connell simply defended himself.” – Legal Insurrection article

    From the “Legal Insurrection” link (refer to primary article):

    Widener Law School goes Soviet, demands law professor undergo psychiatric evaluation

    Posted by William A. Jacobson Saturday, August 6, 2011

    But Dean Ammons recommendation, accepted by the university, went much further, demanding that Connell submit to a psychiatric evaluation, undergo ”anger management” counseling, and issue an apology:

    1. Professor Connell will acknowledge, in writing, his violation of the Discrimination and Harassment Code and will agree to comply fully with his contractual obligations and all policies of Widener University and Widener University School of Law in the future. Professor Connell’s acknowledgement shall be placed in his personnel file.

    2. Professor Connell will undergo a psychological evaluation by a psychiatrist or psychologist of his choice selected from a list of four individuals provided to him by the University. The purpose of this evaluation will be to determine his fitness for his teaching position, particularly in view of his retaliatory response to the student complaints lodged against him. The psychiatrist/psychologist will be advised of the reasons why the evaluation is to be conducted. Once the psychiatrist/psychologist is selected by Professor Connell, Professor Connell will instruct that individual to contact Vice Dean Kelly directly so that he/she may be advised of the reasons for the conduct of the evaluation. Professor Connell will comply with all conditions and recommendations issued by the psychiatrist/psychologist, including, without limitation, appropriate counseling and anger management, prior to the lifting of the suspension and his return to teaching duties. Not earlier than sixty (60) days prior to the end of the term of Professor Connell’s one year suspension, his psychiatrist/psychologist must send to the Dean and Vice Dean an evaluation assessing Professor Connell’s fitness to return to duties, completion of courses or training, if applicable, and a follow-up treatment plan, if any.

    3. Professor Connell must issue a written apology to the students against whom he has been found to have retaliated. The form and content of that apology must be provided to the Dean of the Law School for approval and will be distributed to the affected students by the Dean’s office.

    These conditions are as outrageous as Widener Law School’s underlying conduct in refusing to stand up to false accusations of racism and sexism made against Connell. There was no retaliation or “anger” expressed by Connell except the vigrous defense of what were proven to be false accusations.

    Widener’s requirement of a psychiatric evaluation under these circumstances clearly is intended to further damage Connell even though the committee found no conduct which reflected any alleged psychiatric or anger management issues. Connell simply defended himself.

    Widener Law School Dean Linda Ammons has done further damage to her law school and her own reputation by using psychiatry as a vindictive tool against a law professor whose worst crime was defending himself against false accusations of racism and sexism.

  8. “Connell is suing Ammons, the university, and the two students who made the accusations, alleging defamation.”

    ************************

    Suing the students, too! Sounds like guy with a chip on his shoulder meets thin-skinned dean and the result is calamitous. I’d have suspended the guy too. Suing your customers? In this economy? Frankly has it exactly right. Move on. Salvage your reputation and alleviate the stress.

    That said, the death of his child is a monstrous tragedy and we call all sympathize with the father if not the professor.

  9. I was Pro Se in med. mal case. Other side decided I should see thier shrink for thier evaluation and I was subpoenaed to do so. He took everything I said, ignored it or framed it to their advantage. Luckily medical records from others indicated this guy was wrong but he was hired by other side so found what they wanted him to. Why would th is case end up any different? Comparison with soviet system sadly way too appropriate.
    Carol
    ht://apainedlife.blogspot.com/

  10. I agree, Carol. The deck has been stacked — he has to choose “from a list of four individuals provided to him by the University”, and the other terms are not ones to which anyone in his or her right mind would willingly submit, IMO. As you rightly state, “Comparison with soviet system sadly way too appropriate.”

    Again, from “Legal Insurrection” (from David Drumm’s posting):

    ” Professor Connell will undergo a psychological evaluation by a psychiatrist or psychologist of his choice selected from a list of four individuals provided to him by the University. The purpose of this evaluation will be to determine his fitness for his teaching position, particularly in view of his retaliatory response to the student complaints lodged against him. The psychiatrist/psychologist will be advised of the reasons why the evaluation is to be conducted. Once the psychiatrist/psychologist is selected by Professor Connell, Professor Connell will instruct that individual to contact Vice Dean Kelly directly so that he/she may be advised of the reasons for the conduct of the evaluation. Professor Connell will comply with all conditions and recommendations issued by the psychiatrist/psychologist, including, without limitation, appropriate counseling and anger management, prior to the lifting of the suspension and his return to teaching duties. Not earlier than sixty (60) days prior to the end of the term of Professor Connell’s one year suspension, his psychiatrist/psychologist must send to the Dean and Vice Dean an evaluation assessing Professor Connell’s fitness to return to duties, completion of courses or training, if applicable, and a follow-up treatment plan, if any.”

  11. In their Formal Complaint,the students the students allege:

    Professor Connell said that he finds a person who is shooting at black folks to be less dangerous than a person who is just shooting randomly. He also stated that he did not “get the point” of having laws against hate crimes. This was after we discussed a case about a man who shot into a black family’s home because he did not want black people moving into the neighborhood.

    (The Committee found that he did not use those exact words and pointed out that a hate crime violator was more predictable than a random violator)

    “On the same day as [the in-class discussion of the Goetz case], after class, four students stayed to further discuss one of the cases with the Professor. The students in that group were Nadege (a Black student), Jennifer (a Latina student), and two White students. We were discussing the court’s reasoning for the case described. We talked for more than fifteen minutes. Nadege Tandoh left and the three other students were still in the classroom. Immediately after Nadege left, Professor Connell said, “What you have to understand is that, at that time in New York, Black folk were terrorizing the rest of the population.” Jennifer said, “Well,I am sure that, in a diverse state like New York, black people were not the only ones committing crimes.” Professor Connell said “You mean to tell me that, if you saw a black man walking on the same side of the street as you, you are not going to cross the street?” At this point, one of the other students looked like she was covering up her shock. When Jennifer said “no, if I crossed the street, it wouldn’t be because of his race,” Professor Connell replied, “Oh, really? Where are you from?” Jennifer replied, “Camden, New Jersey. Lots of minorities live there, so I just don’t think like that.” Professor Connell replied, “Well, Camden is a mess.”

    (Professor Connell disputes this conversation)

    There’s more and they deal with all manner of revealing comments about examples of crimes committed by people named “Tyrone.” Allegations of sexual stereotyping and some rather weird comments about statutory rape victims.. The retaliation appears to deal with allegations of emailing other students about the accusers.

    He may enjoy academic freedom from institutional censorship. However he’ll receive no freedom from my strongly held belief we have a jerk on our hands and his employment fate is more than appropriate. He wouldn’t want me on that jury deciding, by a preponderance of evidence, if truth is an absolute defense to his claims.

  12. Come on. The Soviet system? Just because you have to pick from a list of 4? You can always get your own doc too, you know. Do you think Stalin gave you a choice? The Prof could resign and then avoid it all. Was that available to Trotsky?

    Recall that under many workers compensation systems in various states you must choose your physician from a list of three chosen by your employer. Is that Soviet style too?

    Four sounds fair to me.

  13. I am betting Bronshtein would have wanted more opportunity….born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein and changed his name…to Trotsky….exiled from the USSR, ended up in Mexico and then assassinated by a KGB agent….have far to you have to go before they let you go….apparently the Russian KGB reaches as far as Blackwater/Xe the CIA…hmmmmmm

  14. I have very mixed feelings about this case. I don’t like the University’s making a psychiatric evaluation part of his contrition because it smacks of punishment and as a mental health professional I don’t trust one meeting judgments of a person’s mental state. To fully evaluate anybody’s psychiatric condition takes time and I suspect quickie judgments.

    Also the statements made by the students re their discussions with Connell
    strike me as credible. Had they been more lurid in detail it would be possible to infer vitriol on their part. However, they were moderate, though certainly indicating his state of mind. Were I in the School’s position I would have fired the guy, but I would have done it outright, without the added sadism used to protect their legal interests.

  15. MIke S:

    “Had they been more lurid in detail it would be possible to infer vitriol on their part. However, they were moderate, though certainly indicating his state of mind.”

    *****************

    Good point Mike. A vitrolic accusation allows the decider to infer a lesser state of culpability by the accused, while a moderate one permits the decider to infer a higher state. Most folks don’t realize this which adds to the students’ credibility. The professors case suffers for just the same reason but in reverse.

  16. OS:

    While nationalistic sentiments draw me to Jefferson it’s hard to imagine a wiser man than Voltaire. Maybe Oscar Wilde or Balzac can lay claim to equal wit, but in the speaking truth to power department he has no equals.

  17. “However he’ll receive no freedom from my strongly held belief we have a jerk on our hands and his employment fate is more than appropriate. He wouldn’t want me on that jury deciding, by a preponderance of evidence, if truth is an absolute defense to his claims.” -mespo727272

    While I completely agree that Connell is a jerk, and an obnoxious, racist one at that, this is an employment dispute that is best settled by arbitration, at this point, IMO…, but I’m not a lawyer… Having said this, I agree with Mike S. and others who have said that firing him might have been the best option.

    “The Soviet system? Just because you have to pick from a list of 4? -mespo

    What I actually said was this: “The deck has been stacked — he has to choose “from a list of four individuals provided to him by the University”, and the other terms are not ones to which anyone in his or her right mind would willingly submit, IMO. And then I included the other terms…

    Psychiatry isn’t an exact “science”… Evaluations are quite subjective, in fact, especially when done “on the fly” and by those with a vested interest in a certain outcome.

    Mike S. wrote, “I don’t like the University’s making a psychiatric evaluation part of his contrition because it smacks of punishment and as a mental health professional I don’t trust one meeting judgments of a person’s mental state. To fully evaluate anybody’s psychiatric condition takes time and I suspect quickie judgments.”

    I concur.

  18. mespo,

    I thought that this was the perfect tribute to this thread:

    The opening credits:

    The ending credits:

  19. I wrote: “While I completely agree that Connell is a jerk, and an obnoxious, racist one at that…”

    Sometimes there are things that one wishes one hadn’t said…

  20. I doubt anyone will emerge from this situation a winner. As long as the Dean has the support of the President she’s got a job. Should that support evaporate or should the Trustees start to question the President’s judgement in supporting her actions … well, we just might see her back here at Cleveland State.

  21. Blouise,

    With the bad press and the potential exposure this case creates, I’d be really surprised if the Trustees aren’t already looking for a way to ditch Ammons ASAP.

  22. Gene H. 1, August 14, 2011 at 12:11 am

    anon nurse,

    There is plenty of jerkiness and obnoxiousness to go around in this case.

    Gene H.,

    So it would seem, but is Connell a racist? I have my doubts…

  23. http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2011/08/the_mess_at_widener_law_school.html

    August 12, 2011

    The Mess at Widener Law School
    By Charlotte Allen

    Abuse of Power

    Excerpt:

    Ammons and Kelly offered to drop the charges if Connell would consent to the psychiatric evaluation that has been a leitmotif of Ammons’ handling of Connell’s case, with its implications that Connell was at worst suffering from a mental disorder and at best in need of re-education. Connell, who had spent 15 years working in his spare time to win a new trial for a black Delaware man sentenced to death after a prosecutor had excluded blacks from the jury, was incensed at the allegations of racism. He refused the offer and hired a lawyer. In March a committee of three tenured law professors at Widener completely exonerated Connell from all the charges, clearly giving little credence to the students’ garbled allegations. Ammons promptly had the students refile, so that the case against him would be heard by Kelly and another Widener administrator, plus a professor hand-picked by Ammons. The list of charges against Connell shifted its contours: The 1996 incident disappeared, and some of the things that the two complaining students had said about Connell vanished as well.

    By this time, however, Connell had amassed affidavits from students in the class in question and e-mails from other students, many of them female, attesting to his effectiveness as a teacher and his fair treatment of members of minority groups in his classes. He also presented an affidavit from Orin Kerr, a criminal-law professor at George Washington University whose credentials included having graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and having clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kerr not only defended Connell’s raising of racial issues in his classroom discussion of the Goetz case but deemed his hypothetical attempts to murder Ammons for the amusement of his students as unexceptionable pedagogy.

    (“Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan was repeatedly murdered in classroom hypotheticals when she was dean of Harvard Law School.”) (end of excerpt)

  24. This professor is an idiot and possibly a bigot, but he does have rights that seem to have been forgotten by the administration. As much as I would like to see someone with his beliefs on the street instead of training young minds, it appears that the Dean is the one who needs counseling.
    The earlier comments that they should have tried to fire him make more sense, but I am not sure they would have been successful.

  25. Anon nurse:

    Charlotte Allen may not be the best advocate for Professor Connell but she is certainly the most likely. She is the author of “The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus” and a contributing editor to the Minding the Campus website of the Manhattan Institute.

    Some her favorite quotes are: ‘I can’t stand atheists — but it’s not because they don’t believe in God. It’s because they’re crashing bores.”

    “Allen seems to enjoy ruffling feathers, particularly when it comes to writing about women. In April 2005, she wrote in support of Harvard University President Lawrence Summers, who was in trouble after saying that innate differences between the sexes cause the lack of female presence in the sciences.”

    Seems Connell and Allen have more in common that a personal interets iin Connell’s fate.

    Here’s her quite apoplectic conclusion comparing the Dean’s condition for reinstatement to consignmet to a famous villain from the movies:

    ” As for the lawsuit, Connell never waived his right to seek redress in court against individuals whose false accusations have already cost him quite a bit of money and promise to cost much more. But that is the way of New Law School. It is perhaps only Old Law School, with its emphasis on fairness, reasonableness, and color-and gender-blind justice, that would find something totalitarian in Widener’s treatment of Connell and accordingly demand Linda Ammons’ resignation. In New Law School thinking, where power is everything, and the claims of grievance-bearing identity groups will always prevail over fairness, it is perfectly fine to strip your perceived opponent of his livelihood and to consign him to the ministrations of your own Nurse Ratched—and there is no such thing as abuse of power.”

    One wonders what might have happened at Virginia Tech if Dean Ammons had been stationed six hours south and had “Gone Soviet” on Seung-Hui Cho by requiring a psychlogical evaluation of him after his numerous incidents of aberrant behavior beginning in his junior year of college. I know 57 families who wish that she had.

  26. “One wonders what might have happened at Virginia Tech if Dean Ammons had been stationed six hours south and had “Gone Soviet” on Seung-Hui Cho by requiring a psychlogical evaluation of him after his numerous incidents of aberrant behavior beginning in his junior year of college. I know 57 families who wish that she had.” -mespo727272

    mespo,

    Please don’t misunderstand — I have no problem whatsoever with the appropriate use of psychological evaluations, but they aren’t a panacea…

    http://psychcentral.com/news/2007/04/18/virginia-tech-killer-committed-for-psychiatric-evaluation-in-2005/763.html

    “Despite encounters with the law and his past psychiatric treatment, Cho was able to legally purchase the two handguns he used in the attack.”

    The Virginia Tech situation is much different.

  27. AN,

    Not to say anything to offend the princess from NY….But not all people that get psychological evaluation or admit themselves to a mental health should be precluded from purchasing a firearm…In a number of states people are admitted to the Pysch units…for purposes of detoxing…then you have the issue of HIPPA….

    I think the point mespo was trying to make was precaution…an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…I read what he posted and then reread it again…In the case that he is speaking about…the person wanted to be known for something…and he is…

    If I am incorrect please advise me, mespo….

  28. Anonymously Yours 1, August 14, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    AN,

    Not to say anything to offend the princess from NY….But not all people that get psychological evaluation or admit themselves to a mental health should be precluded from purchasing a firearm…In a number of states people are admitted to the Pysch units…for purposes of detoxing…then you have the issue of HIPPA….

    ———————

    AY,

    I didn’t mean to imply otherwise — I agree with all of the above, with the exception of the “princess” part, perhaps… :-) I have a professional interest in this area — I’ve worked as a psych nurse and done mental health evaluations…

    While generally speaking, I’ll agree that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, surely you aren’t saying that Connell poses a risk similar to that of Cho? (The requirement of a mental health evaluation in Connell’s case smacks of retaliation — it seems like a punitive measure, as Mike S. also noted. In the case of Cho, he had had mental health evaluations… and to what end?)

    Cho’s particular motivations aside, short of locking someone up and throwing away the key, if someone wants to commit a violent act, that person will probably find a way… If Dean Ammons had been on alert at Virginia Tech and there had been a mental health evaluation, I venture to say that the tragedy at Virginia Tech might only have been delayed and/or occurred elsewhere.

    mespo,

    I am not suggesting that every request for a mental health evaluation is the result of someone “going Soviet” but, in this case, one must, at the very least, consider Ammons’ motivation for making the request. She’s not exactly a neutral party.

  29. Va. Tech Gunman’s Records Reveal Disorganized Mental Health System

    By Brigid Schulte and Tom Jackman
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Thursday, August 20, 2009

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/08/19/AR2009081902380.html

    The records indicate that Cho sought help at the university’s Cook Counseling Center three times in November and December 2005, twice on the phone and once in person. Each time, he was assessed but not treated.

  30. “A panel created by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) to investigate the state and local systems that allowed Cho to fall through the cracks already had criticized the Cook staff for failing to “connect the dots” about Cho, as well as for losing his records. “The system failed for lack of resources, incorrect interpretation of privacy laws, and passivity,” the panel wrote.

    With the release of Cho’s records, what emerges is a counseling center in disarray in the fall of 2005, at just the time when an increasingly erratic Cho was finally persuaded to seek help.

    That fall, the center’s one staff psychiatrist had taken a leave of absence and never returned. Articles published in the student newspaper, the Collegiate Times, warned that the center was understaffed and that students in need of mental health prescription medications were often required to drive as far as 45 miles to have them filled.

    In court papers released Tuesday, Miller, who was director of the counseling center from 2002 to 2006 and had worked there since 1988, acknowledged that he was fired shortly after calling for an independent consultant’s review in December 2005.

    Miller “inadvertently” packed Cho’s records, along with those of fewer than five other students, with his belongings when he cleaned out his office in late February 2006. Miller did not treat Cho.”

    That’s why you use a panel of psychiatrists or psychologists with some measure of accountability instead of overworked therapists affilated with the school.

  31. “While generally speaking, I’ll agree that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, surely you aren’t saying that Connell poses a risk similar to that of Cho? ”

    *******************

    What we have here is a fellow undergoing tremendous personal stresses (daughter and brother’s illnesses), with a penchant for provocative verbal imagery including violent examples of mayhem and murder upon a perceived oppressor, certain comments that most would consider misogynistic and possibly racial, a chip on his shoulder and some indication that he is willing to pick on those vastly inferior to his position in society with no hope of pecuniary gain (the suit agianst students), along with some sense of admiration for those using violence to fend off their oppressors (Goetz). In my book, that’s enough evidence to worry, and given his proclivity to seek public redress and sympathy, just cause for an evaluation.

  32. mespo, it is not just college counseling centers like the one at Virginia Tech. It is a pervasive problem. Try to get an appointment with a psychiatrist for medication. Good luck. A small handful of states have passed legislation to allow specially trained psychologist to prescribe psychoactive medications, but those efforts have run into a wall of resistance from the physician lobby.

    What I have seen over the years is that college counseling centers are all too often staffed with psychology students doing a practicum. Mental health centers have a hard time keeping doctoral level staff due to low pay and lousy working conditions. When staff are expected to see clients for only a few minutes each, it is hard to do the kind of assessment needed to determine dangerousness. Part of that problem is due to low third party reimbursement, or lack of reimbursement at all. Mental health care has always been the red-headed stepchild of the insurance industry.

    I have said in the past, not entirely jokingly, that things will not improve until some loose cannon like Cho goes into the executive suite of some large insurance company and hoses the place down with an automatic weapon. Then maybe, just maybe, it will get their attention.

  33. OS,

    In some states you go to Psychiatry MD for Meds…not an ounce of counseling…INSURANCE will not pay for it…

  34. AY, yes. I do not know a single psychiatrist who does psychotherapy any more. Many psychiatrists see at least a half dozen patients an hour and are booked solid. I don’t know a single psychiatrist not at a mental health center who takes insurance. It is not worth the hassle. Pay at the door and get handed a HCFA 1500 form to send to your insurance. Let the patient fight the beancounters and cut overhead.

  35. We’ll see how it all turns out with Connell. While I might disagree with him — while I might find his views and style offensive, Ammons’ approach has been one of fanning an existing fire — she’s only made things worse, in my opinion. For any of Connell’s perceived faults, there was no reason to humiliate or denigrate him.

    One of the problems here is that someone involved in the fray ordered the evaluation. If the recommendation had been made by the university in the very beginning — and not by Ammons — it might seem less punitive — less retributive, but I don’t approve of the “take a man when he’s down and poke him with a stick” approach. Nothing good will come of it and, as we know, people sometimes “snap.”

    If Connell was close to the edge, metaphorically speaking, I’m quite certain that he’s even closer. Any “chip” that he might have been “wearing” is almost certainly bigger now.

    The well-intentioned — in trying to prevent violence or tragedy — may actually provoke it, by ill-conceived interventions. No matter how hard we try, we will never be able to predict or prevent violent acts. And we need to be very careful that we don’t provoke them.

    The Virginia Tech situation is different in that when Cho sought help, the system failed. And even it the system has been more effective, the outcome might still have been similar. Different time, different place, similar outcome. We just can’t prevent every tragedy.

  36. I do not know a single psychiatrist who does psychotherapy any more. -OS

    I do. But, I’ll agree, there aren’t many…

    I remember seeing a “60 Minutes” segment years ago. The CEO of some insurance company was asked to justify certain industry practices surrounding mental health coverage and treatment of the mentally ill. His response was basically, “We handle the mentally ill differently because we can.” (I’m paraphrasing, but that was the thrust.) And then he smirked.

  37. OS is correct in general regarding psychiatrists conversant with psychotherapy, but as AN says there are still a few. However, the general agreement between the two on the psychiatric profession also reflects my thinking. A broad knowledge of the varied psycho-therapeutic/psychological theories is an absolute must for those practicing psychiatry and far, far too many lack these. If DSM categorized problems are approached merely with medical insight, the tendency to just prescribe the right drug cocktail becomes the answer. It isn’t a viable answer in many cases and often the “cure” may make the problem worse.

    While working on my Masters I was simultaneously in a psychotherapy training institute. I therefore wanted all the insight I could get from the courses offered in my university. I took a course in “Abnormal Psychology” taught by a very distinguished psychiatrist, who had written one of the most popular textbooks on the subject. The course consisted of what was in essence what psycho-pharmaceutical was to be used with what set of DSM diagnostic criteria. No insight into the specific problems was given. This dovetailed with my early work as a welfare caseworker who was used to go out to the field with Agency psychiatrists to make mental evaluations of clients. The actions of these psychiatrists and their rigidity horrified me to the extent that I refused to work with them after the second case I visited.
    Though while in psychotherapy training some of my fellow students were psychiatric professionals, I was singularly unimpressed by what I saw. My view of the profession is admittedly jaundiced.

    Mr. Connell, who I probably would find personally repugnant was dealt with in the predictable bureaucratic method of punishment, meant to provide deniability and limit liability, rather than ameliorate the matter. His days were numbered, but he was left to slowly twist in the wind via this method, rather than dealing with him forthrightly and firing him.

  38. Widener law prof. lawsuit to stay in DE county Christine O’Donnell won 57-40

    Posted by William A. Jacobson Sunday, September 25, 2011 at 10:58am

    http://legalinsurrection.com/2011/09/widener-law-prof-lawsuit-to-stay-in-de-county-christine-odonnell-won-57-40/

    Excerpt:

    In a major win for Connell, a Delaware judge earlier this month denied Ammons’ request to move the case to New Castle County, finding that under Delaware law Connell’s choice of venue was to be given great weight and Ammons had not made a sufficient showing to overcome that choice:

    Quite simply,any inconvenience is minimal as to Ammons and the other defendants, and is certainly no greater than the inconvenience that Connell faces. Given all of this, I find that Connell‘s choice of forum should be respected and that it would not be an undue inconvenience for Ammons, or any of the other defendants, to attend trial in Georgetown.

    These sort of venue battles can be critical in a highly charged case as this, where juror political leanings and outlooks may influence how they see issues.

    Connell’s attorney Thomas Neuberger was not shy about the significance:

    [V]enue was the one bullet in Dean Ammons gun. She has fired her gun and she missed the target. (end of excerpt)

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